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Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Double Feature Review: Firefall & Soft Gun

Over the course of the last week, I had the pleasure of watching two great indie films that both picked up on the “journey of discovery” theme from very contrasting angles.

Firefall: An Epic Family Adventure is an accurately titled film from director Matt Sconce that delivers heavily on laughs. Invoking shades of Christopher Guest’s movies, the story follows five groups of people as they trek through Yosemite National Park for a last chance to see the now outlawed “flaming waterfall of fire” known as the Firefall.

Among the more colorful characters along for the ride are a down-on-his luck wilderness expert/TV show host (traveling with his young nephew) and a couple of Highland Lads who pop-up regularly and loudly claim their adventure for Scotland. Sconce’s greatest strength is that he’s able to juggle all of these characters in such a way that each gets a chance to become a fan favorite.

Being from Montreal, I will admit to getting the biggest chuckle from the side-jokes involving the frenetic French chefs/fitness experts who run a hybrid cooking and cardio exercise show on public television called “Escar-Go Crazy”. As a compliment to Matt Sconce, his sense of comedic timing for that particular brand of slapstick humor is more attuned than he probably realizes.

Soft Gun
, by sharp contrast, is a traditional yet nonetheless compelling life-on-the-road drama that blows through weed, emotional baggage, and thousands of miles on the US interstate. Along the way, we slowly learn more about two cousins who at one point were also the best of friends. Each is sitting on the cusp of one of life’s many perilous launch-pads, unsure of where to go next.

The film was co-directed by Guillaume Collin, Alexandra Bégin and Jesse Kray (the latter two of which also star in the film). I was pleasantly surprised at how much the story had to say. The team assertively sets the tone early by including an honest yet contentious conversation amongst a group of French-speaking people about a topic which many on both sides of Quebec’s two solitudes view as an unfortunate by-product of daily life in “la belle province”.

The production value is also very strong given the limited budget. Travel-buffs (such as yours truly) might catch themselves taking mental notes – particularly when the trip winds its way to Nashville.

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